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Not The Bali Of In-Flight Magazines, But Good Enough


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Desiri Bakken



Welcome to Bali, a destination often depicted in glossy travel magazines as a luxurious haven with pristine beaches and Instagram-worthy resorts. However, there is a side of Bali outside of the glossy pages that offers a more authentic and adventurous experience. While it may not have the glitz and glamour of the Bali portrayed in in-flight magazines, this lesser-known side of the island is just as captivating, if not more.


Many travelers have preconceived notions about Bali and what it has to offer. They may envision crowded tourist hotspots and over-priced activities. However, those who dare to venture beyond the beaten path will discover a hidden treasure trove of stunning landscapes, rich culture, and unique experiences.


So, let’s delve into the lesser-known side of Bali, the side that may not be as glamourous or heavily marketed but is just as beautiful, if not more. Get ready to embrace adventure, immerse yourself in local culture, and explore the hidden gems of Bali.


Differences in Perception

Bali’s reputation as a tropical paradise has led to certain perceptions among travelers. However, the reality is often different from these preconceived notions. One of the biggest misconceptions about Bali is that it is an expensive destination, suited only for luxury travelers. While it is true that Bali has its fair share of high-end resorts and upscale amenities, there are also plenty of budget-friendly options available.


Another common perception is that Bali is overly crowded with tourists, making it difficult to find peace and solitude. While popular areas such as Kuta and Seminyak can get crowded, there are still plenty of quiet and serene spots to explore. By venturing off the beaten path and exploring the lesser-known areas of Bali, visitors can discover secluded beaches, hidden waterfalls, and untouched natural landscapes.


Additionally, there is a perception that Bali is overly commercialized and lacks authenticity. While it is true that tourism has had an impact on the island’s culture and traditions, there are still many opportunities to immerse oneself in the local way of life. Balinese people are warm, welcoming, and proud of their heritage. By engaging with the locals, attending traditional ceremonies, and exploring the local markets, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Balinese culture.


It is important to approach Bali with an open mind and be willing to explore beyond the popular tourist attractions. By doing so, travelers can uncover the true essence and beauty of this enchanting island.


The Reality of Bali

Bali, often referred to as the “Island of the Gods,” offers a diverse range of experiences that go beyond the typical tourist spots. The island is blessed with stunning natural beauty, from lush rice terraces to volcanic mountains and pristine beaches. The reality of Bali lies in its ability to cater to a wide variety of travelers, from adventure seekers to culture enthusiasts.


For those seeking adventure, Bali has no shortage of thrilling activities. Surfing is a popular water sport, with waves suitable for both beginners and experienced surfers. The island is also known for its incredible diving and snorkeling sites, where you can explore vibrant coral reefs and encounter a dazzling array of marine life.


One of the highlights of Bali is its breathtaking landscapes. The iconic rice terraces in Ubud are a sight to behold, offering a tranquil escape from the bustling tourist areas. Mount Batur, an active volcano, offers the opportunity to witness a mesmerizing sunrise trek that rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.


Bali is not just about its natural beauty; it is also a cultural hub. The island is home to numerous temples, each with its own unique architecture and significance. The most famous of these is Tanah Lot Temple, located on a rock formation in the sea, creating a picturesque setting for sunset rituals.


One aspect that sets Bali apart is its vibrant arts and crafts scene. The island is renowned for its traditional Balinese dance and music performances, as well as its skilled artisans who create intricate wood carvings, batik textiles, and silver jewelry. Exploring the local art galleries and handicraft markets is a great way to support local artists and bring home a piece of Bali’s artistic heritage.


Additionally, Bali offers a wide range of wellness retreats, yoga retreats, and spas that cater to those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. From traditional Balinese massages to holistic healing practices, visitors can indulge in self-care and find inner harmony.


The reality of Bali is that it is a multifaceted destination that caters to different interests and budgets. Whether you are seeking adventure, cultural immersion, or a peaceful retreat, Bali has something to offer for everyone.


Authentic Experiences

One of the most rewarding aspects of exploring Bali is the opportunity to immerse yourself in authentic experiences that allow you to connect with the local culture and way of life. While popular tourist attractions can certainly provide a glimpse into the Balinese culture, there are many off-the-beaten-path experiences that offer a deeper and more meaningful connection.


One such experience is participating in a traditional Balinese cooking class. Not only will you learn to prepare delicious dishes using local ingredients, but you will also gain insight into the culinary traditions and customs of Bali. From visiting a local market to selecting fresh ingredients, to learning how to recreate authentic recipes, this hands-on experience will give you a taste of Balinese culture in the most literal sense.


Another authentic experience is attending a traditional Balinese dance performance. These dances are not just for tourists; they are an integral part of Balinese religious rituals and cultural celebrations. By witnessing these performances, you can witness the grace, skill, and beauty of the dancers while gaining a deeper understanding of the stories and mythology behind each dance.


For those seeking a spiritual experience, Bali is home to numerous temples and sacred sites. Instead of merely visiting the popular temples, consider seeking out the smaller, lesser-known temples where you can observe or participate in traditional ceremonies. Engaging with the local community and witnessing these sacred rituals will provide a profound insight into the spiritual beliefs and practices of the Balinese people.


Exploring the rural countryside of Bali on a bicycle or motorbike is another way to embrace authentic experiences. As you ride through quaint villages, lush rice fields, and untamed landscapes, you will have the opportunity to interact with local villagers and witness their daily way of life. Stops at local warungs (traditional eateries) or small cafes along the way will allow you to indulge in authentic Balinese cuisine and connect with the locals.


Lastly, staying in a traditional Balinese homestay or villa can provide an authentic and immersive experience. Balinese hospitality is renowned, and by staying with a local family or in a traditional accommodation, you will have the opportunity to experience their warm and welcoming nature firsthand. You can engage in conversations, learn about their customs and traditions, and even participate in daily activities if you wish.


By seeking out these authentic experiences, you will not only create lasting memories but also gain a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of Bali.


Balinese Culture and Tradition

Bali is a fascinating destination that boasts a vibrant and deeply-rooted culture. The Balinese people are proud of their traditions and rituals, which are deeply intertwined with their daily lives. Exploring the cultural aspects of Bali is a must for anyone looking to truly understand and appreciate the island’s essence.


At the heart of Balinese culture is the Hindu religion, which plays a significant role in shaping the island’s customs and traditions. Balinese Hinduism is a unique blend of Hinduism, Buddhism, and animism, resulting in a rich tapestry of rituals, ceremonies, and beliefs. The island is dotted with countless temples, each serving as a spiritual hub for the local community.


One of the most notable aspects of Balinese culture is the frequency and grandeur of their religious ceremonies. These ceremonies, known as “pura,” are colorful and captivating events that showcase the deep devotion of the Balinese people towards their faith. From temple processions to ornate offerings and traditional music and dance performances, attending a religious ceremony can be a mesmerizing experience.


The Balinese are known for their exceptional craftsmanship and artistic skills. From intricate wood carvings and stone sculptures to breathtaking paintings and handwoven textiles, Balinese artistry is celebrated around the world. Visiting art villages or attending art workshops provides an opportunity to witness master artisans at work and gain a deeper understanding of the techniques and symbolism behind their creations.


The traditional performing arts are also an integral part of Balinese culture. The island is renowned for its vibrant dance forms, such as the graceful Legong dance and the fierce Barong dance. Music, drama, and storytelling are seamlessly woven together in these performances, often accompanied by the resonant sounds of gamelan orchestras. Attending a traditional dance performance is a must to witness the skill, precision, and expressive beauty of Balinese performing arts.


Furthermore, Balinese culture encourages a deep respect for nature and the environment. The concept of “Tri Hita Karana” promotes harmony between humans, nature, and the spiritual realm. This philosophy is reflected in the intricate water irrigation systems, known as “subak,” which sustain Bali’s famous rice terraces. By participating in eco-friendly activities and supporting sustainable practices, visitors can contribute to the preservation of Balinese culture and its natural wonders.


Immersing yourself in Balinese culture and tradition allows you to gain a profound appreciation for the island’s unique heritage. From religious ceremonies and traditional arts to a harmonious relationship with nature, the cultural traditions of Bali offer an enriching experience that will leave a lasting impression.


Exploring Natural Beauty

Bali is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, which range from majestic volcanoes and lush rice terraces to pristine beaches and cascading waterfalls. For nature enthusiasts, the island offers a plethora of opportunities to explore and immerse oneself in its breathtaking beauty.


One of the must-visit natural attractions in Bali is the iconic Tegallalang Rice Terrace in Ubud. This UNESCO World Heritage site features emerald-green rice terraces that cascade down the hillsides, creating a picturesque setting that is perfect for capturing postcard-worthy photos. Take a leisurely stroll through the terraces, or for a more immersive experience, join a guided cycling tour through the countryside to witness the daily life of Balinese farmers.


For those seeking an adventurous hike, Mount Batur provides a thrilling and rewarding experience. Embark on a pre-dawn trek to reach the summit just in time for the sunrise, and you will be greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. On clear days, you can even catch a glimpse of Mount Agung, the highest volcano in Bali, towering in the distance.


Bali is also home to a multitude of waterfalls that offer a refreshing escape from the tropical heat. Tegenungan Waterfall, located in Ubud, is a popular choice with its powerful cascades surrounded by lush greenery. Other notable waterfalls include Gitgit Waterfall and Sekumpul Waterfall, both located in the northern region of Bali, offering a tranquil and serene natural setting.


The island’s coastline is adorned with pristine beaches that cater to various interests. Surfing lovers can head to Uluwatu or Canggu, which boast world-class waves and surfing schools for beginners. For those in search of tranquility, the tranquil beaches of Nusa Dua or the white sands of Nusa Penida provide a serene coastal escapade.


For a more unique experience, explore the underwater world of Bali through diving or snorkeling. The island is home to an abundance of vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. Crystal Bay, Nusa Lembongan, and Tulamben are just a few of the popular diving spots, where you can encounter colorful tropical fish, majestic manta rays, and even the elusive sunfish.


Bali is also blessed with natural hot springs that offer relaxation and rejuvenation. The Banjar Hot Springs in the north of Bali features hot mineral-rich water surrounded by lush tropical gardens, providing a soothing and therapeutic experience.


Whether you prefer hiking through lush landscapes, basking on pristine beaches, or diving into vibrant underwater ecosystems, Bali’s natural beauty awaits. Exploring the island’s incredible natural wonders will leave you in awe of the diversity and magnificence of this tropical paradise.


Affordable Options

Contrary to popular belief, Bali is not solely a destination for luxury travelers. The island offers a wide range of affordable options that cater to budget-conscious travelers without sacrificing the quality of experience.


Accommodation in Bali caters to all budgets, with a plethora of options available. From cozy guesthouses and budget hotels to affordable homestays and hostels, there is something to suit every traveler’s needs. Many accommodations also provide amenities such as breakfast, Wi-Fi, and swimming pools at no additional cost, making it an excellent value for money.


Eating in Bali can also be affordable, especially if you explore the local street food scene. Warungs, small local eateries, offer delicious and authentic Indonesian cuisine at incredibly affordable prices. Nasi campur, mie goreng, and satay are just a few of the mouth-watering options available. Be sure to try a traditional Balinese feast known as a “babi guling,” which showcases a whole roasted pig cooked in Balinese spices.


Transportation around Bali is relatively inexpensive as well. Renting a scooter is a popular and affordable way to get around the island. It allows you to explore at your own pace and discover hidden gems that might be off the beaten path. Alternatively, hiring a driver for the day is an affordable option, especially if you are traveling in a group. They can take you to multiple destinations and provide local insights along the way.


When it comes to activities and attractions, Bali offers a range of options that won’t break the bank. Exploring the stunning beaches and natural attractions, such as waterfalls and rice terraces, is often free or requires a small entrance fee. Many temples also have nominal entrance fees, allowing you to immerse yourself in Balinese spirituality without breaking your budget. Additionally, there are affordable cooking classes, yoga sessions, and even traditional healing and wellness treatments available for those seeking a unique and budget-friendly experience.


Shopping in Bali can be a delightful experience, especially if you visit local markets and art villages. From handcrafted souvenirs to beautiful textiles and unique artwork, you can find affordable treasures to bring home as a memento of your trip.


Exploring Bali on a budget doesn’t mean missing out on the incredible experiences the island has to offer. By opting for affordable accommodation, sampling local street food, utilizing budget transportation options, and seeking out wallet-friendly activities, you can enjoy all that Bali has to offer without breaking the bank.


The Hidden Gems of Bali

While Bali is known for its popular tourist destinations, there are also hidden gems waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers. These off-the-beaten-path spots offer a more secluded and authentic experience, away from the crowds and tourist traps.


One hidden gem is the village of Sidemen, nestled in the eastern part of Bali. Surrounded by terraced rice fields and overlooked by the majestic Mount Agung, Sidemen offers a tranquil escape from the bustling tourist areas. Visitors can explore the traditional village, witness the daily activities of local farmers, and embark on scenic hikes to experience the untouched beauty of rural Bali.


Nyang Nyang Beach is another hidden gem that offers a slice of paradise for beach lovers. Located on the southwestern coast of Bali, this secluded beach is accessible via a trek through lush vegetation. The reward is a pristine stretch of white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, with few tourists in sight. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy a peaceful day by the sea.


To experience Bali’s spiritual side away from the crowds, head to the village of Trunyan. Located on the shores of Lake Batur, Trunyan is home to a traditional Balinese community known for their unique burial customs. Here, the deceased are not cremated but instead placed under a sacred tree, resulting in an eerie yet fascinating atmosphere. This off-the-beaten-path experience offers a glimpse into ancient Balinese traditions and their reverence for the cycle of life and death.


If you’re a nature enthusiast, a visit to the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces is a must. These UNESCO-recognized terraces, located in central Bali, boast breathtaking panoramic views and remarkable farming practices. Exploring the vast expanses of meticulously maintained rice fields will leave you in awe of the agricultural wonders of the region.


The coastal village of Amed, located in the northeast of Bali, offers a quieter and more laid-back atmosphere compared to the popular beach towns. Amed is renowned for its underwater biodiversity, making it a fantastic destination for snorkeling and diving. Explore the vibrant coral reefs, spot colorful marine life, and discover the sunken beauty of the Japanese shipwreck.


For a unique cultural experience, visit the village of Penglipuran. Known as one of Bali’s most traditional villages, Penglipuran has preserved its authentic architecture and way of life. Walking through the village feels like stepping back in time as you admire the well-preserved Balinese houses and immerse yourself in the local customs and traditions.


These hidden gems of Bali offer a chance to experience the island’s untouched beauty, rich culture, and peaceful serenity. By venturing off the beaten path, you can discover a side of Bali that is often missed by mainstream tourists, creating memories that will last a lifetime.



Bali is a destination that goes beyond the glossy pages of travel magazines and in-flight advertisements. While it may have its fair share of luxury resorts and bustling tourist areas, the real beauty of Bali lies in its lesser-known side – the side that offers authentic experiences, rich culture, and hidden gems.


By exploring Bali with an open mind and venturing off the beaten path, you can discover a side of the island that is less crowded, more affordable, and truly captivating. From joining traditional Balinese cooking classes to witnessing mesmerizing dance performances, immersing yourself in the local culture provides a genuine understanding of the island’s heritage.


Exploring Bali’s natural beauty is a must, from picturesque rice terraces and majestic volcanoes to secluded beaches and cascading waterfalls. By venturing beyond the popular spots, you can discover hidden gems like Sidemen, Nyang Nyang Beach, and Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, offering a sense of tranquility and untouched beauty.


Bali also has affordable options for those traveling on a budget, including budget accommodations, local street food, and affordable transportation. Amidst the breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture, there are plenty of opportunities to experience Bali without breaking the bank.


As you uncover the hidden gems of Bali, you’ll be rewarded with unique experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. From the captivating rituals of Balinese ceremonies to the serene beauty of secluded beaches and cultural villages, Bali offers a remarkable journey for adventurous souls.


So, when you think of Bali, think beyond the glossy photos and in-flight magazines. Embrace the authenticity, venture off the beaten path, and discover the real Bali – a destination that captivates its visitors with its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and hidden treasures.